Right Back With Coffee

by Shanna Alden

I have spent most of my life as a writer, 
spinning universes and microscope lenses,
cosmic horrors, and hope.
Intellectual treatise, statistical research, and internet rant.
but despite this,
and despite months of trying,
I am shit at writing love poems.

And you, 
you deserve love poems
but convention and tradition offer me no council

I mean, 
I could promise pull down the moon for you, 
and I’m sure you’d be impressed by my scientific prowess 
as I tear chapters from your favorite science fiction 
to build the world’s first tractor beam…
But the minute I turn that thing on, 
oceans will pull back from distant shores 
and rush towards our coastal town 
killing hundreds of our friends 
and thousands of innocent fish somewhere in the vicinity of Tahiti, 
and I just don’t think expressing love with the mass murder of people 
…and fish 
makes a whole lot of sense.

You can call me unromantic, 
but no matter how fond of you I am, 
I just don’t think any one person is worth an extinction level event.

I could tell you that your soulful, eyes shine like the sun, 
that you are like staring at the sun,
But, one of the myriad reasons I love you
is that unlike some other loves, 
in some other poems,
you are not out to blind me. 
…and unlike the sun, 
you don’t give me skin cancer.

I am suspicious that
celestial metaphors secretly suck.
Maybe I’m being too literal, 
but I feel like comparing our love to silent, 
deadly titans, suspended in cold unknowable expanse, is like saying
we will always be so distant, we will only really see each other 
in the reflections of our past.

I want better for us,
words that don’t imply 
emotions have rendered us scientifically illiterate sociopaths.

After hours and months, the best I’ve been able to come up with is this: 
I’ll be right back, with coffee.

No, seriously,
I think these might be 
The Most Romantic Words. 
…Hear me out.

When I say, I’ll be right back with coffee
I mean I will face blindness, 
from the actual sun, 
at whiskey hangover o’clock,
so you can sleep a little longer.

I mean I want your mind to function at full capacity
because while, yes, you are inarguably beautiful,
I’m very much like a zombie
in that I am really into you for your brains.

It means, I want to give you comfort
and as proper Seattleites 
our comfort curls steaming
from mugs clutched between fingers
and tongues tempered to know 
a little bitterness enhances warmth.

When I say, “I’ll be right back with coffee”,
I mean you’ve known me to leave,
And I have known you to leave,
and we’ve seen each other run
both away from and toward dangerous things
…like each other
and while we may put cold unknowable distance between us, 
if I can provide warmth, or comfort, or a few minutes of peace
rest assured,
even if I have to go for a while,
I’ll be right back, with coffee.

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